This summer, we've been enjoying a cool drink or a bite to eat in people's backyards to discuss affordable housing and anti-racism in Charlotte. We've focused on a counter-storytelling model to uncover the truth of what often goes untold. The counter-storytelling model is as follows:
1. The Stock Story: The skin-deep, stereotypical story of an area; what lies on the surface. Example: A "safe," white neighborhood with clean, manicured lawns.
2. The Concealed Story: The story that most people know, but only talk about in hushed tones. It is present but often goes unmentioned. Example: the black and brown people that were displaced in creating the primarily white neighborhood.
3. The Resistance Story: The way that people, usually oppressed, fought back against the dominant narrative in order to spark change. Example: The creation of Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to aid neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment.
4. The Transformation Story: What we are working towards. Reshaping the system so that it serves everyone, not just a certain few. Example: Tuckbound seeks to transform through community engagement.
So far, we've visited four backyards and two virtual ones. We've discussed the history of neighborhoods like Sardis Forest, Providence Road, Cotswold, and Myers Park. We've touched on subjects like public versus private schools, land trusts, BLM protests, and countless other examples of resistance. At the end of each evening, our participants are not left with a easy answer, neatly tied up in a bow, for what to do now or how to solve all of Charlotte's problems. Instead, they are left with a jumping-off point; they are given ways to get more involved with QC Family Tree, examples of organizations to support, and ways to donate their time to help others.
Each neighborhood and group we visit has different insights and different stories to discuss. No two salons are identical, but participants are always left with ways to become part of a solution and ways to help us improve for future salons. It is a privilege for me, as an intern, to witness what can be first steps to the changing of ideas and solving pressing problems.